Southwest Airlines announced today that it has successfully completed the connection between the Southwest and AirTran networks. Customers are now able to purchase itineraries to the airlines’ combined 97 destinations, including international, in one transaction. The newly connected itineraries are on sale now via all Southwest and AirTran sales channels for service starting on April 14.
“We began rolling out shared itineraries in January in a handful of markets, and we’ve gradually ramped up the initiative where we now connect our entire network across both Southwest and AirTran,” said Bob Jordan , Chief Commercial Officer at Southwest Airlines and President of AirTran. “With a connected network, we can offer Customers more itineraries, more destinations, more low fares, and a taste of what’s to come once the integration is complete.”
Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways took the first step in connecting their networks on Jan. 26, 2013, by offering a small number of connected itineraries in five markets. On Feb. 25, 2013, the airline launched connected itineraries in 39 cities.
By connecting the Southwest and AirTran networks, Customers may:
* Add one or more AirTran domestic flight segments to a Southwest itinerary, using Southwest booking channels (southwest.com, 1-800-IFLYSWA, travel agencies, Southwest’s mobile site and apps, and Southwest Airlines ticket counters.)
* Book one or more Southwest flight segments connecting to an AirTran itinerary, using AirTran channels (airtran.com, 1-800-AIRTRAN, AirTran Airways ticket counters, and travel agencies.)
* Use all Southwest channels to book an AirTran-only domestic itinerary.
* Add an international AirTran segment to a Southwest itinerary within a single reservation, through a Customer-friendly transfer of the transaction to AirTran channels for booking, purchase, and ticketing by AirTran.
* Earn currency in either loyalty program no matter which carrier they fly. (The currency a Customer earns is determined by the carrier from which they buy their ticket, even if flying on a shared itinerary.)
As is standard with industry “code share” arrangements, the Marketing Carrier’s (where you buy your ticket) rules and policies apply to reservations and ticketing. The Operating Carrier’s (which airline operates the flight) procedures apply to boarding, seating, and the onboard experience. Southwest is making one exception: any itinerary with a Southwest segment or that is purchased through a Southwest point-of-sale channel will not have bag fees for the first or second checked bag (weight and size restrictions apply.)
Customers will continue to earn and redeem currency through the frequent flyer loyalty programs of their Marketing Carrier, regardless of the Operating Carrier they travel on. Customers should be enrolled in both Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and AirTran Airways A+ Rewards programs in order to earn currency from whichever airline they purchase a ticket. Loyalty Members also have the ability to transfer their currency between the two loyalty programs.
Southwest Airlines announced plans to acquire AirTran Airways on Sept. 27, 2010, an acquisition that significantly expanded Southwest Airlines’ low-fare service to more Customers in more domestic markets, creating hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries for the traveling public. Since Southwest Airlines closed the deal to purchase AirTran Airways on May 2, 2011, Southwest and AirTran Employees have worked hard to facilitate a thoughtful and smooth integration process while providing the same high level of Customer Service that Customers have come to expect. To date, Southwest Airlines has welcomed 30 percent of AirTran Employees to the Southwest Family, has converted 11 AirTran Airways 737-700 aircraft to the Southwest paint scheme and interior configuration, and has transitioned five AirTran Airways-served cities into Southwest Airlines operations.
The process of a full integration of the AirTran Airways 737 fleet into the Southwest Airlines fleet (i.e. paint scheme and interior configuration) and transition to a single ticketing system is a large and complex process that is expected to be completed by the end of 2014. Southwest Airlines realized $142 million of net, annualized, pre-tax synergies during 2012, and expects to achieve $400 million in 2013 (excluding acquisition and integration expenses).